Throughout the Summer of 2017, I decided to photograph the people that surrounded me.
Whether they were here from the day I was born or a complete stranger on street. I decided that I as a photographer am obliged to tell the stories of those around me. At the beginning of the summer, I was shooting to get comfortable with film and to get out and shoot more. By the end of the summer, I was shooting to share the short, yet impactful collision of our two lives.
I ended the summer with complete strangers at a festival in my hometown. A town that has raised me and has been my muse. I love my hometown. I saw this to be the only fitting end to this project. I started it with my family and ended it with the hundreds of people which make the smallest but some of the deepest impacts in my everyday.
We often go through life without recognizing the people that have made small but vital impacts to our lives. Whether it is the gratitude for family, the deep meaningful conversation with a dear friend, or an exchange of a smile with a stranger. We learn a lot by intentionally questioning, reviewing, and honoring these encounters that we have every day.
Throughout the past year, I have learned the importance of capturing and sharing the stories of the people around me. I have lost a grandmother, a close neighbor, a dear friend, an uncle, and almost lost my mother. While my life has been greatly impacted over the past year of loss, I am reminded that this final year with these people was not the only story of these people. Our lives are lived from birth to death, yet our beginning and end are all the same. We take a breath and we let out a breath. It is the impact of the breaths in between that tell how well-lived a person's life was. We have a choice to speak kindness and love over disrespect and hate. We have a choice to labor in our breath to make other people's lives better. We have a choice to sing songs of joy or gasp at the signs of our Creator.
I am thankful for all those that I have lost in the past year, that their lives were lived for the Creator. I am thankful that I will once again be reunited with them in the Kingdom of God. I am thankful that I get to be a part of their legacy. I am thankful.
I achieved the many photographic goals I set out at the beginning of the summer, but I also gained much greater things. I will get to look back on this project and remember the beauty of life and remember that it is in the everyday that we become who our legacy is. We are not remembered by the gravestone, but by the lives that we leave behind.
I have a few thank yous for this project. First, I want to thank everyone who allowed me to photograph and capture a small slice of their story. Second, I want to thank Ilford's HP5 film which is what I shot all of this one, and for Darkroom Lab for developing and scanning all of my film. Thirdly, I want to thank my three bestfriends who are constantly encouraging me and inspiring me to shoot photos every day.
Lastly this project is dedicated to several people; Grandma Tolliver, Uncle Jack, Mr. Eugene, and Bradley Gattis. Thank you all for letting me be a part of your living legacy. Thank you all for impacting my life and hundreds of others by exemplifying love and the Creator.